Accidents happen to everyone. But sometimes they require more than just getting up, brushing yourself off, and moving on. When that’s the case, it’s time to bring in a professional helping hand: A personal injury claim lawyer.
Filing a personal injury claim—whether it be for an auto accident or an injury due to defective property (like broken steps or slippery floors)—can help you better manage those bigger accidents. Being prepared and having an attorney on your side are both key, as the process can be complicated and a little confusing.
We’re here to help; if you have questions about how the personal injury claim process works in North Carolina, the Wilson Williams Law staff and I are here to assist you in any way that we can. But, before you reach out, let’s walk through what the personal injury claim process looks like. Understanding how to prepare and what to expect can move you through the process more quickly, and get the support you need for your specific situation.
An accident happened, now what?
First thing’s first: Your wellbeing is the biggest priority. Make sure you get the appropriate medical attention you need. Even if you don’t think you’re initially hurt, it is advisable to get checked out by a physician after your accident occurs.
After your health is carefully tended to, there are several things that should happen as soon as possible:
Take pictures and notes, and gather evidence of the scene of the accident or what caused your accident, any injuries, and any damaged property. Write down an outline of what happened as soon as you can, while events are clear in your mind. And, if you’re able, collect the names and contact information for any witnesses who may have been present.
Don’t play the blame game. If someone else was involved in the accident, don’t admit blame or accuse—the insurance company, law enforcement, or a legal team will take care of that for you. Instead, be sure to note names and contact info for anyone involved in the accident. Also, be sure to exchange insurance information.
And, if necessary, call law enforcement for assistance and to log a report and make a personal statement (this can be essential to your later claim).
Understanding the basic steps in filing an accident claim
There are several steps to take when filing an accident or personal injury claim and understanding what to expect from the claims process can prevent you from running into potential snags along. Each step acts like a domino, initiating the following step in the process.
Most claim processes include the following:
- Seeking initial medical assistance and/or advice
- Identifying and filing an insurance claim
- Pursuing follow-up treatments or finalization of medical treatment ordered by a physician
- Gathering and organizing medical evidence and important documents
- Preparing a “demand letter” or package (an overview of the financial assistance you’re seeking)
- Sending and awaiting for your demand package to be reviewed by an insurance agency
- Settling your claim, or filing a lawsuit, if needed
The importance of the demand letter
Now that you understand the steps, time to work with your attorney to get the process going.
Your demand letter is the linchpin in your claim process and will be the central focus of your claim.
This document or collection of documents, will outline your accident, capture evidence that supports you were not in fault, and why an insurance company should help pay damages.
When pulling together these documents, you’ll need to include:
- A summary of your injuries
- An explanation of why you’re not at fault
- An overview of any medical treatments you’ve had (or need), and costs
- Any other issues you’ve endured (e.g. pain and suffering, time away from work, property damage, etc.)
You’ll want to be careful when building this document. It is what the insurance company will weigh when considering how much of your claim will be covered. Paperwork that lacks evidence or leaves questions will likely be denied.
And, if the insurance company decides to not pay enough (or any) of your claim, an attorney can help you file a formal complaint.
Filing your complaint
Working with your attorney to file a complaint gives notice to the defendant that a lawsuit is underway, and you (as plaintiff) are looking to secure compensation. Once penned and filed, you and your attorney will have 30 days to serve documents. And, once your claim is received by the defendant, their legal team will have about the same amount of time to respond. (If they don’t respond, the courts may hand down a default judgement in your favor.)
Discovery process and reaching a settlement
Following compliant filing, your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will gather and review evidence. This is also the time when either legal team can file motions to dismiss or delay—or to settle the claim and close the case.
Most personal injury claims end here, with a settlement being reached before going to trial. (This usually involves an agreement of compensation being reached in exchange for dropped charges.)
Still have questions or need a helping hand?
Generally, a claim for personal injury must be brought within three years of the wrongful act that caused the injury, or you may lose the right to make a claim. That’s why it is important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer shortly after your injury occurred.
Our team at Wilson Williams Law is here to help! We’ll guide you through the personal injury claims process, and fight for your rights if you have suffered harm at the hands of others in accidents throughout the state of North Carolina. Our lawyers are extremely responsive and available to provide a free consultation to you regarding your potential case immediately.
Get in touch with us today. We look forward to helping you through the personal injury claim process.
Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.